Voldemort! (A post on names)

By , September 30, 2010 5:35 pm
Lord Voldemort

Not many good 'lords' in fiction these days, huh?

I’ve talked before about using Voldemort as a tongue-in-cheek stand-in for my old name, and how hearing my old name has an effect on me. Well, this past week it came up a few times, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how to handle it.

First, while teaching my high school class, they were coming up with improvised stories. I always love watching kids do this, particularly more advanced classes, because the things they come up with are inevitably ridiculous but often very engaging and enjoyable to watch. On this past Saturday, someone must have had my old name on their mind because it was used in two stories for the main character’s name.

I, of course, immediately began questioning myself: was one of the kids making fun of me? How would they even know? What were they giggling about? How self-conscious did I need to be? If I said something along the lines of, “Wow, that names popular today,” would they know why I said it?

I ended up suppressing my inner crazy woman, and didn’t bring any of that up. I’m relatively confident it was a benign, harmless event, but I don’t like that those are still the questions I come up with.

Likewise, I’m working on the remount of Trans Form for this November and December, and there’s a section where – in the past production – I talked about my old name. It fits the narrative, and is chronologically important for the part I’m talking about, but it still makes me uncomfortable. It feels to me like it plays into the popular culture before-and-after dichotomy that rings so false to my lived experience. And it in some way gives power to those who might wish to cast doubt on my womanhood; a thing they can throw at me to deny my identity.

The performance issues surrounding my old name trouble me more than my discomfort with my students. With my students, I’m (mostly) able to convise myself that they didn’t mean anything by it, and their use of the name had nothing to do with me. But for my show, my old name is relevant to the piece and adds to the narrative.

Even if I don’t like it.

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